Bajoran author Pela Zhor speaks at opening of Berengaria Caucus
BERENGARIA VII — The Berengaria VII Caucus began today in the capital city of Urraca, with all major (and even many minor) candidates in this year’s presidential race present.
Joining them are such Federation luminaries as Siraan of Vulcan, Cardinal Maria Santiago, Dr. Ven Tell, and many, many more, including many FNS contributors.
“The Value of Open and Free Discussion”
Noted author Pela Zhor of Bajor gave the opening address, reflecting on the changes in the galaxy since the last time he opened the Caucus in 2320, most notably the transformation of his homeworld of Bajor and what value and place Federation ideals have in an increasingly factious and unstable galaxy.
“We look to the Federation Charter not as the haughty values of yesterday’s idealists but as the culmination of hundreds—thousands of political movements over just as many years and ten times as many worlds. Over the Federation’s existence, these ideas have been challenged, from within and without, and there have been temptations to call our ideals ‘superior’ to those we would call ‘barbarous’ and ‘backward’. But that’s not what the Federation stands for.”
“The Federation is not a haughty, shining city on the hill; it is an organization that seeks to turn fists into open palms, by extending one of its own. Our ideals make no claim to completeness, to absolute truth. Rather, our ideals believe most of all in the value of open and free discussion. We do not let differences simmer and shatter the peace we have all so hard worked for. We acknowledge them and the validity of our opponent’s opinion.”
A Historic Forum
The Berengaria Document, signed by Vulcan, Andoria, Tellar, and Earth, was a statement of common values and ideals among the assembled worlds when the Federation proper was still a nascent idea. It outlined comprehensive concepts of citizenship, sovereignty and interstellar law that would eventually give rise to the Federation Charter. In the late 22nd century, the Berengaria Caucus was started by T’Shar of Vulcan and her New Federation movement to serve as a free and open intellectual arena, in the spirit of the Document. While the New Federation Movement quickly declined, the Caucus continued and came under the direction of the Berengaria VII government, which has organized it annually ever since.
Everything one can think of is discussed in the Caucus, and many regard it as the high point of interstellar discourse. So called “dangerous ideas” and unpopular opinions are never shunned, and the only rule is that the decorum of the Caucus be maintained and that speakers discuss and debate in a respectful manner. As Governor Ingrid Stellstrom reminded the audience, “This isn’t Chaya VII”.
Indeed, very few of the workshops ever turn heated, and the Berengaria Caucus is known for its sincere and calm exploration and discussion of ideas. Much like a classroom, the point of the Caucus is to explore ideas, not to declare a winner in an intellectual battle or determine the moral superiority of one view over another.
Discussions on Policy
The first workshop of the Caucus was devoted to a discussion of Federation foreign policy, with special attention given to the new alliances of the Menthar Corridor. Ambassador and presidential candidate Lily Ventu joined the discussion as one of the experts, alongside noted Detapa Council member Natima Lang and Federation Foreign Minster Shelaen Varea. By all accounts Ambassador Ventu did well and was deemed by attendee Lirisha as “poised, confident and eminently quotable” in her discussion points.
Other candidates are lined up to speak at various individual workshops, while the main event of the Berengaria Election Forum will be held at the end of the week, with an open invitation to all declared candidates to join. Other hot topics on the board include the Prometheus Incident and a discussion on Starfleet oversight and scientific ethics in the wake of the disaster. It’s also standing room only in the discussion on the Prime Directive as it relates to the Romulan Republic and whether the Federation should recognize the nascent liberal Romulan state.
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